Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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Easy Ways to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

By Kathy Brown.

I really had no idea how much plastic was in my garbage until the town started collecting plastic bags. I started accumulating bags from a sleeve of bagels, frozen vegetables, Amazon packaging, etc. Soon I had a big bag of them. If that much plastic was just from bags, how much other plastic was I using? Here are just a few tips on decreasing waste:

  • ¬†When you bring your lunch from home for work, use glass containers (instead of plastic like Tupperware or Ziploc), a cloth napkin, and regular silverware that you can wash when you get home. Bring a thermos filled with water, or iced tea, or lemonade, instead of a plastic water bottle.
  • Use a bar of soap instead of liquid soap.
  • Use a razor with disposable blades, instead of a disposable razor.
  • If you want/need a straw, use a paper one, or better yet, use what I’ve been using for years: a stainless steel straw.
  • Bring your own shopping bags (about half of mine are insulated, so they work better than plastic anyway).
  • Stop using baggies. They make all sorts of cute little reusable bags, that are dishwasher safe for cleaning. It will save money in the long run as well.
  • Stop buying little snack bags of pretzels, chips, etc. Buy the big container and repackage into the reusable smaller bags mentioned above. It’ll reduce packaging/waste AND save you money.
  • Bring your refillable coffee container with you to Brewed Awakening or Dunkin’ Donuts or wherever you buy your coffee.
  • If you buy online, ask them to stop sending you catalogs, and just look online when you want to shop. But if you do shop online, and you think it’s saving you a little money, think about the added packaging, and delivery and the bigger carbon footprint, and decide which makes more of a difference to you. Shop local if you can.
  • Ask for electronic, instead of paper billing.
  • Donate used clothing that is still good to the Haddam Community Closet, or in a drop box around town. If it is ripped or stained, put it in the textile recycling container at the Haddam Transfer Station.
  • Use LED lights instead of incandescent.
  • If you’re getting rid of old magazines, see if a local group or school can reuse them for artwork.
  • Shop for recycled products. Look on the packaging and see if they use recycled or biodegradable materials.
  • If you don’t return your cans/bottles to the store for a nickel, consider donating them to the Scouts bottle drive.
  • Compost your food and yard waste. You’ll save on fertilizer.
  • Are you trying to downsize? Maybe you’ve gotten onto the Marie Kondo bandwagon. There are many places that take household goods: Goodwill, Salvation Army. The Vietnam Veterans will even schedule a time to pick up items from you. For more information on what they take, click HERE.

My grandfather, who grew up during the Great Depression, often said, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I, on the other hand, grew up in a disposable society. I brought my lunch to school in a paper bag. But even that is better than the school where I work outside of RSD #17. If someone buys the school lunch, it is served on a Styrofoam tray, with plastic utensils, and little plastic cups holding the carrots, the ketchup, and the applesauce. So much waste. But we can make a difference. We can ask for change. Call manufacturers who use a lot of packaging waste, and ask them to cut down. Tell them you’ll bring your business elsewhere.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.



  1. Thank you , Kathy, for a very informative article. I have been recycling for many years years but this gave me a number of ways to do more that I hadn’t thought of. Hopefully, lots of others will read it, too.

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